"Call Me By Your Name" (2017)- Movie Review

Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Written by James Ivory (based on novel by Andre Aciman)
Starring Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg

‘An Unforgettable Gay Romance’

Over the past decade or so, films about gay romance have become a rarity in Hollywood. For some reason or another, few films have been made about gay love stories. Why is this? It seems like filmmakers are afraid to take risks and explore sensitive subject matter. It may also be due to the fact that these films do not appeal towards mainstream audiences. That being said, in recent years there have been exceptions to this trend. For instance, films such as “Moonlight” have proven that there is potential for queer love stories to be told. However, these films are rare and few in quantity.

Luca Guadagnino’s latest film “Call Me by Your Name” is an unforgettable gay romance that sets a benchmark for the genre. A deeply moving love story, it captures the romance between an adolescent and older man. With the help of a talented cast, director Luca Guadagnino has crafted a gorgeous film that succeeds on nearly every level. It is beautifully shot, powerfully acted and sharply written. Although it may not appeal to everyone due to it’s controversial subject, “Call Me by Your Name” is a must-see. Its a heartbreaking portrait of a gay romance that will resonate with anyone that remembers the first time they fell in love.

Set in 1980’s Italy, “Call Me by Your Name” focuses on the life-changing summer of a teenager named Elio (Timothee Chalamet). Elio is a mature adolescent who enjoys reading books, playing music and spending time with his family. However, his life forever changes when he meets Oliver, a graduate student visiting from abroad. As Elio falls in love with Oliver, the circumstances of his life threaten to tear their relationship apart.

It is an absorbing love story that is skillfully brought to life by director Luca Guadagnino. As a filmmaker, Guadagnino brings a distinct visual style and flair to each of his films. And “Call Me by Your Name” is no exception. Through gorgeous cinematography, Guadagnino draws the viewer into the hazy summer experienced by a teenager. From intimate close-ups to breathtaking establishing shots, the cinematography plays a significant role in the film. Not only does it capture the viewer’s attention, but it creates a sense of time and place. The film was shot in Northern Italy, and the city is captured in a way that feels timeless and authentic. “Call Me by Your Name” is one of those films that draws a spell on the viewer through its stunning visuals.

Aside from the stunning visuals, arguably the most impressive aspect of “Call Me by Your Name” is James Ivory’s screenplay. It is not easy to adapt a beloved novel to the big-screen, but this is one of those rare films that succeeds. The screenplay, which is based on Andre Aciman’s novel, is extremely well-written. Filled with larger-than-life characters, intelligent dialogue and realistic situations, the script enhances the film to another level. Each scene is elevated by a sense of realism that is rarely seen in films today. The characters feel like real people and are easy to relate to. The film takes its time to develop the characters and the central relationship between two men. By the end of the film, you become heavily invested in this relationship and almost don’t want it to end.

Its mainly due to the fantastic performances from the cast. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer are exceptional as a pair of lovers, creating a gay romance that is utterly believable. Both actors are fully committed to their roles and worthy of awards recognition.

Timothee Chalamet delivers an extraordinary performance as Elio. In his first ever leading role, Chalamet commands every scene he is in with confidence that is rare to see in an actor of his age. It’s an emotionally demanding role that requires the utmost commitment, but the actor manages to do it full justice. With haunting expressions, he conveys the longing, sexual desire and inner turmoil of a teenager struggling to find his identity. Its a star-making turn that establishes Chalamet as one of the finest young actors working today. Although he is a relative newcomer, his performance in this film proves that he has a bright future in the industry.

Armie Hammer is excellent in the role of the handsome and charming Oliver. Ever since his debut role in “The Social Network”, Hammer has proven time and again to be a fine actor. However, he has never gotten the opportunity to showcase his talents in a leading role. As Oliver, Hammer delivers his finest performance to date. He brings his usual charm and charisma to the role, but also showcases an emotional range we’ve never seen from him before. Its a marvelous performance from one of the most underrated actors working today.

The final, most noteworthy standout in the cast is Michael Stuhlbarg. As Elio’s wise and caring father, he delivers a monologue towards the end of the film that nearly brought me to tears. Its not often that an actor is able to leave a lasting impression with limited screen time, but Stuhlbarg is one of those rare actors with this special ability.

Although “Call Me by Your Name” is beautifully acted, it is not quite the masterpiece that critics have made it out to be. If I had a minor issue with the film, it is the lengthy running time. At a little over two hours, the film is overlong and drags in certain places. There are times when the story moves at a snail’s pace and tests the viewer’s patience. Due to its slow pacing, this is certainly not a film that will appeal to everyone.

Despite its lengthy running time, “Call Me by Your Name” is a gorgeous gay romance that is simply too stunning to be missed. At a time when gay films are a rarity in Hollywood, the film proves that there is potential for queer love stories to be told. Stories like this don’t come along often, but on those rare occasions that they do they deserve to be seen and celebrated.

4/5 stars

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